March 2, 2024

Leaders Introduce Virtual Assistant across the South Pacific Islands

Hope VA offers simple Bible studies and health information in a conversational format.

Adventist Record, and Adventist Review
Regional Adventist church leaders and pastors recently celebrated the launch of Hope VA in the Trans Pacific Union Mission, which includes 10 island nations in the South Pacific. [Photo: Adventist Record]

Regional church leaders in the Southern Pacific Division (SPD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church recently introduced Hope VA, a virtual assistant that offers Bible studies and health information. The assistant was launched across the 10 nations of the Trans Pacific Union Mission (TPUM) during the “Set Apart” pastors’ meetings, held February 12-17 at Fulton Adventist University College, Nadi, Fiji.

Hope VA delivers free Bible studies and health lessons in a conversational format to contacts who message her on the WhatsApp messaging platform. Her lessons have been carefully scripted by Adventist pastors at the SPD to deliver simple, grace-filled studies that are always friendly in tone. The studies feature multiple-choice questions throughout each lesson, without relying on artificial intelligence. 

A convenient way for thousands of people to engage with the Bible and better health, Hope VA helps people begin their faith journey online, then gently leads them toward their local church or health team, where they can make new friends and continue to grow, church leaders behind the initiative said. As each student completes a course, Hope VA invites them to continue their journey through a friendly connection with their local Adventist church.

Those studying health lessons are invited to receive a free health check from a local 10,000 Toes health ambassador. The 10,000 Toes initiative seeks to curb the scourge of diabetes across the region by creating awareness and sharing health tips through volunteers. Across the Pacific, there are already 5,600 of these health ambassadors, who will now support the contact work of the virtual assistant. Hope VA coordinator Lia Duacakacaka will then carefully oversee the invitations sent and accepted, ensuring that each connection is passed on to the local church or 10,000 Toes team.

Key to the success of the project is how simple it is to use and share. Church members in each country simply memorize her number to share with others or share her via link or QR code.

“We are only just now learning of the various ways that Hope VA can be used in the hands of missional members,” Russ Willcocks, senior ministry systems specialist at the SPD’s Adventist Technology Services, said.

Church leaders introduced Hope VA during the Trans Pacific Union Mission ministers’ meetings, which took place in Fiji, February 12-17. [Photo: Adventist Record]

It is anticipated that Hope VA will be a vital tool in the hands of members and pastors to reach further into the community than ever before, leaders said. “Commit her number to memory,” SPD president Glenn Townend said. “Share her wherever you go, and teach your members to do the same.”

TPUM ministerial secretary Linray Tutuo urged pastors to teach their members to sow the Word wherever they go, by sharing Hope VA in every nation.

Fulton college church pastor Arivakisati Niumatawalu said, “Our chaplain, Pastor Brian Chand, and I are looking forward to working together to help our Adventist students use Hope VA to reach out to non-Adventist students on our campus.”

After the dedication prayer, TPUM president Maveni Kaufononga asked the pastors, “Who will take Hope VA to the people of the Trans Pacific?”

“We will go!” was the deafening reply from the pastors!

Hope VA was first launched in Papua New Guinea in July 2023 and is expected to play a significant role in assisting the church there in the lead-up to the PNG for Christ initiative in April and May, as well as assisting with follow-up Bible studies for thousands, at a time when discipleship resources are already stretched through the rapid growth of the Adventist Church in PNG. Similar outreaches are planned in a number of missions in the TPUM from July onward. 

The new virtual assistant is a collaborative project that brings together many parts of the Adventist Church. Using technology developed by Novo Tempo in Brazil, Adventist Technology — with SPD Strategic and Innovation funding — is working with church leaders, Hope Channel, and 10,000 Toes to deliver this initiative into the hands of church members across the Pacific.

The original version of this story was posted by Adventist Record.